John Edward Cooper’s Notes

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Early days at Fleetwood Grammar School

Early Days

Second day of term—Tuesday 5th September 1961
 1. The next day, Tuesday 5th September, I was so frightened at the prospect of my new situation, made worse by the fact that I hadn’t attended on the day I was supposed to, that my Mum had to accompany me on the Ribble bus right to the school.
[1] So, at 8.30 a.m., we left the house, turned right (in fact, in the opposite direction to Fleetwood), and walked the few yards along Fleetwood Road to the bus stop nearly opposite Beechwood Drive, to wait for the number “162”.
[1] I was so frightened… that my Mum had to accompany me… right to the school: When Peter Gooding told me, a year or two later, about his first meeting with Jones, and mentioned that Jones’s Mum had been with him at the bus stop on that first day at the Grammar School,[more] I didn’t tell Gooding about my first day at the school, when my Mum accompanied me actually to the school gate. As I laughed raucously with Gooding about Jones’s Mum’s presence with him at the bus stop, it never even entered my head about my own first day.

 2. I had on my new school blazer that my Mum and Dad had taken me to Rawcliffe’s in Blackpool to buy during the summer holidays, when they had commented in almost dismayed tones how expensive it was to buy all the things the school required me to have; it was a dark, somewhat smoky blue,[2] and had the school’s insignia on the breast pocket—a shield, with waves on the lower half, and the upper half divided into two, with a sailing ship (the Bonaventure) to the left, and the red cross of St. George to the right—and I was wearing my new school cap, which was the same blue, and had a metal badge of the Bonaventure sewn to the front of it. Under the blazer, I’d put on my light blue shirt, which was also new so the collar felt a bit stiff and awkward, and my new school tie, dark blue with red and white oblique stripes; and I wore short grey trousers.
[2] A dark, somewhat smoky blue—in contrast to the “royal blue” of Jones’s outfit; see Jones meets Gooding, Note 4.

 3. Presently, in the distance, the red Ribble bus rounded a bend in the road and came into view; and as it approached I held out my hand to signal it to stop. (I later learned that there were a number of such buses which came in fairly quick succession, and I started to leave the house a little later and a little less urgently.)
I think the bus kept to Fleetwood Road for all of its route to Fleetwood. (There were some, however, that turned right at Thornton Windmill, and detoured down Woodland Avenue, rejoining Fleetwood Road at the end of Trunnah Road.) There were fields after the bus left the built-up area of Thornton, with a rise in the road towards Burn Hall—hardly a “hall”, just a very old, quite low house, with trees around it—and then a gentle descent, with the large, tall metal frameworks and structures of the I.C.I. chemical works to the right. The road then turned fairly sharply to the left, where on the outside corner there was a row of red brick terraced houses—Springfield Terrace—and after that ran completely straight for about half a mile. There were trees on the left, and I have the impression of water being visible through or near the trees. There were more fields, then the built-up area of Fleetwood started at the Broadwater tram crossing (or “Broadwaters”, as the locals and the bus conductor referred to it). The bus carried on along Fleetwood Road and, passing West View, continued along Beach Road. (At West View roundabout the extension of Fleetwood Road northwards is called Beach Road.) It then turned right into Poulton Road at the Queen’s Hotel, past St. Wulstan’s Roman Catholic church, and we got off at the bus stop after where Manor Road on the left, and Broadway and Highbury Avenue on the right, meet Poulton Road. Ahead of us, on the other, right-hand, side of the road, was the dark-brown creosoted spread of single-storey red-roofed wooden buildings that was the Grammar School. At the front of the school, which faced Poulton Road, the line of the boundary fence was broken by an open gateway; and, passing through this, one could enter the school by either of two wide, white-pillared doorways, to the left or the right.

Click on image to enlarge
(1950’s map taken from Lancashire County Council Maps and Related Information Online)
 4. Exactly what happened then, I can’t remember. There was a boy walking by: as one faced the school building, it seems to me, he was headed to the right; and I have the impression that he was actually within the school grounds and coming out of the gateway. Since we didn’t know precisely where I should go, my Mum approached the boy and explained that I was starting school today because I was ill yesterday so couldn’t come then. He replied something, so I thought, about “Old Broadway”. I asked, “Who’s ‘Old Broadway’?”, and he explained that “Broadway” was the place down the road where all the first-years went.

A 1930s and a 1950s view of Fleetwood Grammar School
One reason, why I say that I can’t remember exactly what happened, is that it was forbidden for pupils to enter or leave the school by its two white pillared front entrances—these were for staff use—and I am also under the impression that the area in front of the entrances, and the gate, were also out of bounds. So is my impression correct that the boy was there? And if so, what was he doing there? Was he headed for “Broadway”, so that my Mum put me in his charge? My original thought was that my Mum left at that point. If I had to continue to “Broadway” alone, not accompanied by Mum, nor by the boy, wouldn’t that defeat the object of her coming with me on the bus?
 Not knowing, then, precisely who was there, I shall use the first person singular in what I now relate.

 5. I walked away from the gateway, down Poulton Road, in the direction from which the bus had brought me, with iron railings on my left backed by a hedge. As I went along, the school buildings gave way to tennis courts, behind which extended the rugby pitch. The railings ended abruptly and I crossed the road before me (Highbury Avenue), bearing left into the wide street ahead: Broadway, it was called; that’s how what we referred to as “Broadway” got its name. To the immediate left, but set back several yards from Broadway, was the construction site for a large church building—it was being built of brick—and just a little further along was a one-storey, but fairly tall, saddle-roofed building, also of brick. It was rectangular in plan, with its long side parallel to the road. By the side away from the road, on the paved area near the building, or straying onto the grassy space between there and the site of the church, were a number of boys and girls. They were about my age, and the boys had the same blue uniforms on as I did; so I guessed that this was the place called “Broadway” referred to by the boy I’d met at the main school.
 6. Above is a freehand sketch of Broadway that I made from memory in 1979. The references a–i are explained below.
 I don’t remember what happened immediately after I arrived at “Broadway”. I just have the impression of strangeness inside that large echoing building with painted walls. The building was entered by double doors (a) just round the near left corner, i.e. on the side away from the road. There was a similar door, I think, at the far corner on that side, but if so, it wasn’t used. The door led to a small ante-room, and a sprung double door (b) to the left led to the long—and I have the impression: low and narrow—cloakroom area (d). This opened out on the right along its length to the main hall (e). If one stood in the main hall with the long corridor-cum-cloakroom area to the back and the tall windows (f) looking out on Broadway to the front, then to the right was the stage (g), and leading off from each end of the hall—to the left, and beyond the stage to the right—were two classrooms (h), one at each end of the building. I was in the right-hand classroom, where I sat facing the end wall (i) at a single desk, the second line of desks from the right-hand wall (j), the first couple or so lines being occupied by the boys and the rest by the girls.
So much for memory. Let’s compare it with more recent photos.

Photo from Google Street View

I envisaged the end wall (i), which I faced when in the classroom, as plain, but the above photo shows that it has a chimney in it, and a small building abutting it. And there are two small upper windows.

Photo from Bing Maps Bird’s Eye View

Photo from Bing Maps Bird’s Eye View

As for “the impression of there being a similar door” to the entrance door “at the opposite end on that side”, there’s a room jutting out at an angle — unless that was added after the time that I’m recalling here. The impression of a “long… low and narrow… cloakroom area” (d) is correct because that is in a lower structure alongside the main building.

Photo from FGS Online

There was a side window in my classroom, in the right-hand wall (j) just by the corner, which I had forgotten about when I drew the sketch—yet I refer to it later in this story (in par. 33).

 7. There were four classes of first-year pupils; and what we called “classes” at primary school were called “forms” at Fleetwood Grammar School, so there were Forms 1A, 1B, 1C and 1D. We were told that the forms were split just because of the numbers and not by any criterion of ability. (However, in the second year the forms were divided according to ability, and it raised a few eyebrows when it was noticed how many people from 1A went into 2A.) 1A and 1B were mixed classes; I was in 1A. Peter Gooding and David Jones (who have already been mentioned[more]) were in 1B. 1A and 1B occupied classrooms at opposite ends of “Broadway”. I think one of the others had its form room in the main school building, in the music room, perhaps. I think that Marion Chandler, who had been in my class at primary school and for quite some time had sat with me, was in this form.
 That only accounts for three of the four first-year forms, though. I can’t remember whether any use was made of the hall at “Broadway”, apart from for the morning religious assembly before lessons, and for some of the lessons themselves. Perhaps it was normally kept clear, and that folding desks were set up for lessons. If that was the case, it was perhaps not suitable for use as a form room, unless lockers were provided, because this would require the sort of desks that we had in the end rooms: more substantial and therefore not portable, with hinged tops and lockable compartments beneath for pupils’ textbooks, exercise books and personal effects.

The Boys
 8. Boys at Fleetwood Grammar School were addressed by teachers by their surnames. This practice was adopted by the pupils themselves, though they commonly used abbreviated or diminutive forms (for example, I was called “Coops”). Laurence Eastham[3] was an exception; he was called “Loz”.
 I remember the register being called on subsequent days; we had to call out our own surnames in alphabetical order, thus:

—and so on.
 Now, who do I remember from among the pupils in those days?

 9. Blundell was less tall than average and was quite a fat boy, but he seemed tough; at any rate he was not picked on as many “fatties” are. As if to confirm his toughness, his lower jaw was set so that the teeth came in front of his upper teeth, giving him a rather fierce, bulldog-like appearance. He had dark hair combed forward; and I have the impression of a fringe that he had to head-toss out of his dark eyes. (There were two “fatties”: Blundell in my class, and the even fatter Alan Clarke, nicknamed Fats, who was in Gooding’s class, 1B).

 10. Alan Clapp was about average height, or slightly taller than average, about my height. I think he sat behind me. It may even be that our seating arrangements were made alphabetically. He was blond or fair-haired, with blue eyes. He was normally even-tempered, but I remember him getting peevish in the face of some provocation once. He didn’t appear to be ever so bright intellectually, but as I recall he did get into the sixth form.

Dickinson and O’Donnell
 11. Stanley Dickinson was sandy-haired, small and thin, with a pale complexion and purple-tinted eyelids, which all made him appear rather frail. He was a bright lad, with a talent for wit and sarcasm. He came from “over Wyre”, as the area on the other side of the Wyre estuary was referred to; I think he lived in Pilling. (I seem to remember that he was later nicknamed “Pilling”.) He was sometimes late for classes; and I think that was because part of his journey involved travelling on the Wyre ferry, which was subject to delays in bad weather. He became friendly with Stephen O’Donnell, who was also intelligent but who appeared somewhat dim because he was partially deaf and often had an open-mouthed vacant expression on his face. O’Donnell was quietly-spoken in the extreme—one had to strain sometimes to catch what he said—and he was quiet and thoughtful in nature. He was good-looking in a sombre way, dark-haired, brown-eyed; sombre, but he could have a winning smile.

 12. Peter Green seemed to complete a trio with Dickinson and O’Donnell; I think he and O’Donnell had both gone to Beach Road Primary School in Cleveleys. He was the extrovert of the group; his lively personality made him the centre of attention. People listened to what he said, laughed at his jokes. He showed off quite a lot, but this was always accepted among the boys. Yes, these three, and especially Green, were the “in crowd”; they adopted the latest crazes, like Peter Cook and Dudley Moore impersonations, or like taking off Norman Vaughan with his catchwords “Swingin’!” and “Dodgy!” Green was black-haired with dark eyebrows that met in the middle, green-eyed, good-looking.

 13. Another Beach Road boy was David Rotheram, whom Green knew as “Gob”; why “Gob” I don’t know: possibly it was by shortening and alteration of the name “Rotheram”. Gob was tall, lean, fair-haired; athletic; intelligent, but a worrier. He used to carry all his school exercise books packed tightly into his satchel, which thereby soon assumed the proportions of a huge cube. He always used to ride his very heavy, black, old Rudge bicycle in top gear, not allowing himself the ease of a lower gear even when going up hills. He was very religious, this being made obvious by his stance in assembly (which would sometimes provoke a nudge and a giggle or two from his associates)—standing erect, not slouched like we tended to be; eyes tightly closed; hands placed together with fingertips touching, not clasped as ours might be—also, by the fact that he would stop his ears and cry, “Shut up!”, going red, with tears in his eyes, if someone should try to tell him a smutty joke. This later led at times to teasing. He was a somewhat solitary figure, though he was not unpopular.

David Rotheram, school photos, 1962 and 1965
See also I learn to ride a bike; “A tin of Jetex and a tin of fuse”; Two inches away from being blinded; A bike ride with David Rotheram; Gazzians, Marsatians and Harmonians; David Rotheram and I go camping to Garstang; I go back to school.
 14. Laurence Eastham
[3] was a large lad, both tall and somewhat overweight. He was intelligent, but had a slow, plodding way of speaking and doing things.
[3] Laurence Eastham left the school later; he appears on the class photograph taken the following year, but not on the one taken in 1965.
Little Doyle and Big Doyle
 15. David Doyle was a diminutive, very slightly-built boy with straight, light brown hair, combed forward, and glasses which reduced his eyes almost to pinpoints. His twin brother Alan, likewise with straight, light brown hair, combed forward, and glasses which reduced his eyes almost to pinpoints, was in contrast perhaps taller than average; so people referred to “Little Doyle” and “Big Doyle” (though they might address one or other of them singly as “Doyly”). Little Doyle was in my class in later years, but I don’t remember him being in 1A; Big Doyle was never in my class. The question is: Would they be put in a class together? I reckon that probably they wouldn’t, so perhaps Little Doyle was in Form 1A and I’ve forgotten.
 And that’s about all I remember about the boys in my class. Oh: John Ingham and Paul Sutcliffe have come to mind.

The girls
 16. Teachers called girls by their Christian names, not by their surnames as they did the boys. I can’t remember, though, how they called their names out during registration; I assume that they called out both Christian and surname in alphabetical order of surname. I think the girls came after the boys in registration.
 I didn’t pay a lot of attention to the girls in that class, class 1A; I was very shy with girls. The boys were outnumbered by the girls by, I should say, about three to one: the catchment area of the Grammar School, for girls, was very large and took in Thornton Cleveleys, Poulton-le-Fylde and beyond, extending to “over Wyre”; most boys outside Fleetwood who had passed the “eleven plus” exam went to the nearer school, the all-boys Baines’ Grammar.

Lorraine Atkinson
 17. Lorraine Atkinson was in my class. I wouldn’t have remembered this but for a reason I will go into later. Although she had been in my class at Church Road County Primary School—had been the classroom “sex symbol”, almost—I hadn’t really known her to speak to.

Lesley Brown and her sister Olwen
 18. The class “brain-box” was Lesley Brown,[4] a small brown-haired girl with myopia (or, perhaps, come to think of it, hypermetropia) and a lisp. She was undeveloped physically, but her face was not unattractive. With her featureless blouse-clad chest she contrasted sharply with her twin sister Olwen[5] (who was in a different class) who even at that time had a pronounced bust pressing into her gym-slip.
[4] Lesley Brown: She had an article, My Bull Terrier, published in the first Fleetwood Grammar School magazine that we received, The Georgian, Spring 1962, page 29.
[5] Olwen: She too had something published in The Georgian, Spring 1962, page 33, a poem A Psalm of School.
I mention Lesley and Olwen Brown again in “Lynn Johnson”.
Now what of the teachers?

The form-mistress, Mrs. Leadbetter
 19. I think the form-mistress was Mrs. Leadbetter,
[6] who also took us for Maths. I was terrified of her; we hardly dared move in her presence and certainly dared not utter so much as a murmur for fear of her sharp tongue which would lash us into subjection. She had a loud teaching voice, a sort of modified witch-cackle, and an even louder shouting voice. If our sums were right they would be given a red tick—
—but if one was wrong it would be given a blue cross—
—which would not subsequently pass unnoticed till a correction was written up and the cross endorsed with a red “C”.
Yes, she was very particular and strict, yet I suspect that beneath that iron exterior there was a concern for our well-being and a potential for compassion.
[6] Mrs. Leadbetter: Cf. The Georgian, No.59, Summer Term 1961, page 3: ‘We welcome Mrs. Parnaby, who joined the staff after Miss Davies’ resignation to teach mathematics. We also welcome Mrs. Leadbetter… in a temporary capacity. Mrs. Leadbetter and Mrs. Parnaby are both former pupils of the School.’

 20. I remember that “terror” Mrs. Leadbetter taking me to task in class over a sum I’d done wrong. It was something like:

3 + 4 x 2.
I’d got the answer 14, and Mrs. Leadbetter was indignant because I’d not got the correct answer 11 (or whatever the appropriate answer for the sum had been).
 “Didn’t you know that you have to do the multiplication first?” she asked.
 “No, Mrs. Leadbetter!” Not “No, Miss!”: as far as I recall, she had scolded someone for calling her “Miss”; she was not a “miss”, she was “Mrs. Leadbetter”.
 “But you were taught that at primary school!” she retorted, with stress on the word “primary”.
 But I was convinced that I hadn’t been, so, frightened though I was, I replied, “I wasn’t—”; and this is why I know that Lorraine Atkinson was in my class, because I then looked across to her, hopefully—or desperately. But I was disappointed by her reaction: either she nodded in affirmation of what Mrs. Leadbetter was asserting, or she indicated that she had got the answer 11 (or whatever). Either way, I know I didn’t get the support I wanted from Lorraine Atkinson.

Lessons in the main building
 21. Our morning assembly, and most of our classes, were held in “Broadway”, but there were times when the whole class had to troop along Poulton Road to the assemblage of dark creosoted wooden rooms of various sizes, arranged round a quadrangle, that was the main school building. I picture, for example, our first Algebra lessons with Mrs. Leadbetter being in the main school, in one of the square classrooms with gloss-painted, tongue-and-groove boarded walls and ceilings, as well as some of our English lessons with Miss Loney.

English—Miss Loney
 22. Miss Loney
[7] was young, in her early twenties, with a soft, fairly fast-speaking, flowing voice. She had a smooth, lightly bronzed complexion and brown eyes in an attractive, oval face, framed by short brown wavy hair. She was slim—her body was oh, so narrow in profile—but shapely. When in those days she wore a tight, pale-blue upper garment, a kind of jacket with a collar and V-neck, it showed her figure off to very good effect; and there was a tantalising view of smooth, sun-tanned chest—no cleavage visible, just the flat bit of chest below the collar bones, but that was tantalising enough in my incipient puberty.

[7] Miss Loney: Cf. The Georgian, No.58, Spring Term 1961, page 4: ‘We welcome Miss M. Loney to teach English; Mr. A.T. Ogden to teach P.E.…’
 23. There had evidently not been an English lesson on the first day of term, the day I missed, because I remember Miss Loney’s introduction to us in the “Broadway” form room. Or rather, I remember Peter Green’s reaction after the lesson. Going all dewy-eyed, showing off, he said, “Ooeeooeeooh!” (a kind of yodel): “‘Miss Loney’—well she won’t be ‘lonely’ very much longer!” And as if he felt that he could milk more laughter from us boys, or that we hadn’t understood the pun, he repeated himself: “Ooeeooeeooh! She won’t be lonely very much longer!”

Miss Kittson
 24. The other boys in our year didn’t have Miss Loney for English; they were taught by Miss Kittson,
[8] who became nicknamed “Kitbag”. Although an appropriate-sounding play on her name, it was a complete misnomer as a description of her, for she was tall, dark-haired, good-looking with a very shapely figure. She stood in for Miss Loney in our class when Miss Loney was off sick; and once, to my surprise, she appeared, not in one of her brightly-patterned, cotton-print dresses but in a skirt topped by Miss Loney’s light blue upper garment (or a similar one); and the morphological comparison was interesting: Miss Kittson’s was the more prominent pectoral endowment. I was hard put to decide who was the more desirable of the two.
[8] Miss Kittson: See Note 16, below.
Miss Loney (continued)
 25. As I said earlier, some of Miss Loney’s lessons were held in the main school, because, I remember, after we had started French, this was where she was utterly amazed at the silence of one rather dim girl, who went very quiet as she was questioned about the verb “to be”; for while apparently she hadn’t the slightest notion that it was related to the words “am”, “are”, “is”, she did know that “être” was conjugated by “je suis, tu es, il est”.

French—Mr. Atkinson
 26. French itself was taken by Mr. Atkinson,
[9] who presented as a good-natured comedian; and he was certainly popular in class and made us laugh. But he could be provoked to great rage and could shout very loudly indeed when faced by some upstart who took undue advantage of his jocular nature. [Cf. Monday 17th January 1966.]
[9] Mr. Atkinson: Cf. The Georgian, No.56, Spring Term 1960, page 5: ‘We welcome several new members of staff and hope they will be very happy here. Miss E. Hughes has come from Cardiff University to teach Music; Mrs. F. Trotter from Manchester College to teach Domestic Science and English… Mr. W. Atkinson has come from Blackpool Grammar School to take charge of French…’

 27. I once saw the words “Black Ack” inscribed on a desk, then I started noticing it written in other places; and I remember that someone questioned him as to the identity of “Black Ack”. “Oh, that’s me!” he smiled, nonchalantly. Whether this appellation was coined because of his stormy rage, or because he set very stiff exam papers, I don’t know.

 28. He had a mop of grey hair, being probably in his fifties, and had pronounced facial lines. He was very French, I thought, in appearance, having, rather appropriately, a circumflex-shaped frown line on the bridge of his nose, and pursed lips which easily framed the French “u”.

 29. His first appearance in class was quite impressive: he burst into the classroom, calling, “Bonjour, mes amis!” We hurriedly stood to attention, as we had to whenever a teacher entered the room, not knowing what the heck he meant. He paused for a moment, then said, “Asseyez-vous!”—indicating that this meant “Be seated”.

 30. Our first French homework involved memorising the present indicative of “avoir”: “j’ai, tu as, il a, elle a, nous avons, vous avez, ils ont, elles ont.” I remember having difficulty initially remembering this, but I was fortunate because my Mum remembered it from her French at school, so she helped me recite it till I had mastered it. I remember being a little confused between the third person plural of “avoir” and that of “être” and wondered why they sounded similar, except that one sounded like “/ilˈzõ/” and the other like “/ilˈsõ/”.

Biology—Mrs. Trotter
 31. Back at “Broadway”, early on, we started Biology, which was taught by a rather fat lady called Mrs. Trotter,[10] an appropriate name since she was rather porcine in appearance. On reflection, she didn’t convey the impression of being a scientist, a biologist; she was more like a nature study teacher, or a housewife who had read up on the subject.[11]

[10] Mrs. Trotter: See Note 9, above.
[11] On reflection, she didn’t convey the impression of being a scientist, a biologist; she was more like a nature study teacher, or a housewife who had read up on the subject: I wrote this in 1979, long before I discovered in 2003 the reference in The Georgian (Note 9, above) to her appointment as Domestic Science and English teacher.

 32. We first did insect “clubs”—a strange and “unscientific” word to use, I thought—diptera, coleoptera, hymenoptera, lepidoptera; head, thorax, abdomen, six legs. Then spiders: thorax (no distinct head), abdomen, eight legs, pedipalps (funny word, that!).

 33. Mrs. Trotter made us keep little notebooks of nature observations, and one of my entries was about blood and what I’d observed through my little microscope. It was only a tiny thing, 70x magnification. I’d seen it in my Dad’s Kay’s catalogue and requested it for Christmas; and I was very pleased with what I could see through it. I brought it to school with me one day, and in Biology we set it up on the sill of the window, forward and to the right of where the boys’ desks were, and people took turns to look through it. I felt rather proud and pleased with myself. I wrote in my notebook that I’d seen red blood cells and observed them grouping together as they died. Perhaps I really thought I had observed this, but the idea itself was copied from The Children’s Encyclopedia.

 34. Later on, I seem to remember being amazed that one of the lessons was “The Waves of the Sea”, and thought, “What has this got to do with Biology?!”

 35. I got good marks from Mrs. Trotter, on the whole, apart from one “III+” which I thought was unjust. But on the whole, since I liked biology very much, I was very gratified with the marks. I think I got my first “I–” from her; “II+” was usually the best mark awarded by anyone.

History—Mrs. Salmon
 36. Mrs. Salmon, a thin, ageing though active, enthusiastic woman, took us for History. She framed her words very accurately on her moist, red-lipsticked lips, with many hand and finger gestures, all part of her zeal for her subject. Her first lesson at “Broadway” dealt with civilisation’s origins; and we did a map of the world, with various portions of the map coloured in, called “The Cradle of Civilisation”. We also did things like the Feudal System with the lord in his manor house and the peasants working their strip plots on two of the three fields which they had, the other one lying fallow.

 37. In those early days I enjoyed history, but later on came to detest it and became useless at it, degenerating from “II’s” to an eventual “IV”, much to Mrs. Salmon’s frustration and, occasionally, rage. Why they put me in for “O-level”, I don’t know, because in the “mock” exam, I got 16%—and (obviously) the lowest grade, which was 9, in the real exam.

Geography—Mr. Cox
 38. Mr. Cox
[12] was a thick-set man—almost simian in appearance. He took us for Geography. He had a kind of gravelly voice, delivered in a conversational, not didactic, style. He was friendly and treated his pupils more as fellow human beings than as “kids”, while maintaining his authority. It was from him that I first learned of “barkhans”[13] and “inselbergs” and the great diurnal range of temperature in deserts. I seem to remember these lessons being held in the hall at “Broadway”, rather than in our form room.

[12] Mr. Cox: See Note 16, below.
[13] Barkhan is the way he spelled it; a more usual spelling is barchan.
Physics—Miss Woodward, Mr. Barnes and Mr. Price
 39. Physics lessons began, I think, in the classroom in the main school building next to the hall behind the stage. There was, in fact, a door in that classroom to the right of the long, wall-mounted blackboard, which led backstage, so the classroom could be used as a props room or a changing room for theatrical productions.

 40. The teacher initially was Miss Woodward.
[14] I remember little about her, except that she was a pleasant person. I was a little uncertain of her name at first because it sounded like “Wood-wood”, which rightly seemed an unlikely name.
 “What was her name again?” I asked somebody, Steve O’Donnell possibly.
 “Wood-wood,” his reply sounded like to me.
 “Wood-wood?” I asked, incredulously.
 She only taught us a few times, possibly only for a couple of lessons, before she left. Her first lesson was about thermal expansion, where she demonstrated contraction on cooling using a device with a heavy cast-iron base. It held a bar with a hole through it at one end, through which a thin piece of bar was inserted. The first bar was heated and it could then be screwed up so that the thinner bar was brought against stops. When the first bar cooled the force of contraction caused the thinner bar to shear off against the stops.
[14] Miss Woodward: See Note 16, below.
 41. When she left, Mr. Barnes[15] (“Arthur”) took us. He loved his subject, but he was a bustling, sometimes stuttering, man who had difficulty putting his subject over. He had sandy hair, which stuck out uncontrollably and completed the image of bustling untidiness. He initially tried to teach us thermometry, and his first homework was the first one to cause me real difficulty and anxiety, because I had no idea, either how to construct a temperature-conversion graph from the formula
or how to do problems using that formula. So, I didn’t like Arthur very much at that stage because of the difficulties he presented. Later on, I was able to separate the likeable man from the frustration-causing teacher, which was as well, because he was a nice chap. I don’t think Arthur took us for Physics very long either; he had probably just “stood in” temporarily for Miss Woodward after she left, although he was part of the permanent teaching staff.
[15] Mr. Barnes: Cf. The Georgian, No.55, Summer Term 1959, page 4: ‘…We welcome Mr. Barnes who has come from the Palatine School to teach Physics.’
 42. Our next Physics teacher, who like Arthur had a friendly disposition, but who unlike Arthur had a talent for making himself clearly understood, was Mr. Price,[16] thin Mr. Price, who seemed all arms and legs and who had a face which though kindly enough looked like a water vole’s, albeit a nice water vole. His voice was soft and mild, but capable of deep undertones. I had a great liking and respect for Mr. Price, who made his subject so much clearer than Mr. Barnes. It appears that the others liked him, too, for I don’t remember him ever having to resort to disciplinary measures with us.
[16] Mr. Price: Cf. The Georgian, No.60, Spring Term 1962, page 3: ‘We had to say goodbye… to Miss Woodward who was recently married… We welcome the following new members of staff who have joined us since last September: …Miss S. Kittson (English)… Miss J. M. Eatough (English)… Mr. J. F. Cox (Geography); Mr. D. H. Smith (Religious Instruction); Mr. G. W. Price (Physics)…’
Mathematics—Mr. Wedlock
 43. On the subject of stand-in teachers, it seems that as far as Maths lessons were concerned, Mrs. Leadbetter was standing in for someone,[17] because eventually that year she was replaced by a middle-aged, dark-haired, dark featured, stooping man whose name was Mr. Wedlock.[18] He had a sense of humour and the class’s first reaction after he had gone after the lesson was that everyone liked him. However, as I smilingly remarked how funny he was, Steve O’Donnell or one of his “set” seemed to remain unimpressed and commented on his sneer.
[17] Mrs. Leadbetter was standing in for someone: Cf. The Georgian, No.59, Summer Term 1961, page 3: ‘We welcome… Mrs. Leadbetter… in a temporary capacity.’
[18] A middle-aged, dark-haired, dark featured, stooping man whose name was Mr. Wedlock: I only re-discovered his name in copies of The Georgian in 2003. Before that, for nearly 25 years, from 1979 when I first wrote this, the story has referred to “a middle-aged, dark-haired, dark featured, stooping man whose name I forget”.
 44. He had been ill at the start of term,[19] and before very long was off again, and that was the last I saw of him because he died not long afterwards,[20] probably of cancer. He had been, apparently, a respected member of staff of long standing because his death was announced with due gravity and everyone agreed what a loss it was.[21]
[19] He had been ill at the start of term: Cf. The Georgian, No.61, Autumn Term 1962, page 3: ‘We welcome… Mr. Parkinson who has joined the Staff temporarily during the absence of Mr. Wedlock. We are very sorry to hear of his illness which has necessitated a return to hospital.’
Also, cf. The Georgian, No.62, Spring Term 1963, page 3: ‘We are very pleased to welcome back after their illnesses, Mrs. Haworth, Mr. T. Smith and Mr. Wedlock, and we hope they will enjoy good health.…’
[20] He died not long afterwards: Cf. The Georgian, No.63, Autumn Term 1963, page 3: ‘1963…
‘Mar. 29—Death of Mr. Wedlock after a long illness.
‘April 1—School Morning Service held for Mr. Wedlock.’
[21] His death was announced with due gravity and everyone agreed what a loss it was: Cf. The Georgian, No.63, Autumn Term 1963, pages 5 and 6:
‘It is with deep regret that we record the deaths of Mr. G. Wedlock and Mr. S. J. Gerrard who will be very much missed in the School and in the Common Room. We offer our sincere sympathy to Mrs. Wedlock and family and to Mrs. Gerrard.…’

‘Mr. G. V. Wedlock 1956–1963

‘To some of us Mr. Wedlock’s death came as no surprise but this did not lessen the sadness we felt at his passing. His was a life of dedicated service both during the war and in his chosen profession where he was a loyal and outstanding teacher who showed remarkable personal interest in the pupils he taught. During an illness lasting eighteen months he endured a considerable amount of pain and several major operations with a fortitude and faith which makes us proud and privileged to have known him. We in the staff room are grateful to have experienced his unfailing good humour and camaraderie. His loss is keenly felt, and to his wife and young family goes our deepest sympathy in their tragic bereavement.’
 45. I seem to remember him talking about how many branches of mathematics there were and writing their names on the board. He did this to illustrate how little we were covering in our arithmetic, algebra and geometry, and what new and exciting vistas there were for the person who made mathematics his life. I was greatly impressed and couldn’t begin to imagine what the other branches could be about, when the three we learned seemed to me to cover just about everything in mathematics.

 46. I also remember him talking with some humour at “Broadway” about decimal currency, several years before “p’s” arrived in this country and “LSD” still meant money.
[22] His idea was to make “ten bob” the unit of currency, and he gave it the name of “one Britannia”, which people would shorten, probably, to “Brit”. “I’ve only got a few Brit on me!” (Ha, ha, ha, responded the class.) Then the shilling would be a tenth of the basic unit and one would have decimal currency.
 Or, one could leave the pound as it was. One could then take the threepenny bit, worth an eightieth of a pound—not much difference between that and a hundredth of a pound, really; re-value it to a hundredth of a pound, and call it a “bit”.
 One could then even take a farthing, worth a twelfth of a threepenny bit—not much difference between a twelfth and a tenth, really; re-value it at a tenth; this could be called—er—“a bite-a-bit.”
 The class loved this, and were laughing mirthfully at these suggestions.
[22] Before “p’s” arrived in this country and “LSD” still meant money: Before the UK had decimal currency, the symbol for Pence was “d”, but after decimalisation the symbol for New Pence was “p”. There were three denominations, Pounds, Shillings and Pence, symbols “£” (which is a modified “L”) “s” and “d”. In the “drug culture” of the later 1960’s, “LSD” became the common abbreviation for the hallucinogenic drug lysergic acid diethylamide, and “LSD” meaning money fell out of use.
 47. Mr. Wedlock upset me once, and vindicated the reserve shown regarding him by O’Donnell. It was at “Broadway”, in our form room; and he, noticing that Clapp was missing, asked the class in general, “Where’s Clapp?”
 Endeavouring to be funny, I said half-aloud, “Up the pole!”
 “What was that, boy?”
 Silence. He continued to stare at me. “Mm?”
 “Up the pole, sir,” I muttered.
 “Up the pole?— Up the pole?” he said sardonically. “Whatever do you mean, ‘Up the pole!’?”
 He continued his stare, and I felt really humiliated then.

Games and P.E.—Mr. Ogden
 48. Games and “P.E.” were taken at the main school by Mr. Ogden[23] (“Oggie”), a wiry fit man with a “spiky” bass voice. All the boys in the first year, twenty or so, were together for these lessons. I think perhaps the girls had Domestic Science when the boys had Games, and Games when the boys had Woodwork. What they did when we had P.E., I don’t remember or never knew.

[23] Mr. Ogden: See Note 7, above.
 49. I missed the first session of Games, where the game of Rugby was introduced, being excused. I never did get the hang of it after that—well, that is how I excused my inability at the game.
 Yes, I was hopeless at Rugby, but even so was roped in to the Under-12 Rugby team, simply because there weren’t many boys to choose from, and even fewer aged under twelve. So one freezing cold day, I stood on a playing field just off “Broadwaters”, shivering. I was full-back and didn’t see much action. Actually, though, come to think of it, quite a bit of action came my way as the gigantic forwards of the opposing school’s team came charging towards the try line. I made a token gesture of tackling, each time this happened; that is to say, I reached out my hands gingerly to touch the person who was running past me with the ball. The final score was 32-nil, or something ridiculous like that. For most of the game, and indeed in any game of Rugby, the farther away from the ball I was the happier I was.
 After showers, which I didn’t need because I was still spotlessly clean, my Dad, who had brought me to Fleetwood that Saturday for the game, took me home again in the motorbike and sidecar (“KRN 305”, its registration number was). How good it was to be warm again! (If you get out of bed on a cold day, your clothes feel cold; but it’s amazing how warm clothes feel when you change back into them on a cold day when you’ve been perishing with cold yourself.)
 Apparently, my Mum asked my Dad later how I’d done, and he understated it by replying, “Not very well.”

 50. I was slightly better at P.E. (which was held in the hall where the second year upwards had morning assembly), although neck-springs presented me with difficulty; I just couldn’t co-ordinate the spring, which meant that I repeatedly fell off the box on to the back of my neck, which I remember as a sickening thud. But neck-springs came later, possibly in a later form. It was early on, though, that we did handstands against the wall-bars; and I misjudged coming out of the position, because I released my hands first and came down on my head with a sickening thud. The resulting headache didn’t last long, though, and the incident did raise a bit of a laugh.
 It was during P.E. sessions that we first did high jump, and it was here that with the others I first laughed at Jones. I remember his peculiar slow, stiff way of running, which near the bar broke into a series of short skipping movements, the last of which kicked the bar off. I, on the other hand, was reasonably proficient at high jump—I had a style which was somewhere between the scissors and the western roll—and I was even in some inter-school competition once, a year or two later, on our school field. Peter Green was the best at high jump, and would have represented us at this event had he not been off sick.

  Woodwork—Mr. Lindow
 51. Across the corridor from the hall was the woodwork room, where Mr. Lindow took us, not surprisingly, for Woodwork. He was a bald little man, somewhat pot-bellied, with a quiet and rather adenoidal voice. He taught us how to measure and mark wood, the correct marks for “face side” and “face edge”, how to saw straight and accurately with a tenon saw, the correct use of chisels, and how to sharpen them, and so on. I seem to remember we made a test tube rack (or was it supposed to be a pipe rack?) and a teapot stand; and to practise making dovetail joints we made a kind of shelf bracket. We had to design a fancy piece to go in the angle, and I remember on presenting my first drawings to him he told me, “I don’t like any of those designs, Cooper”; and I had to try again.

Ernest and Sally Lindow, ca.1967 photo.
More about the main school
 52. As I mentioned earlier, the school was arranged around a quadrangle. The hall and the woodwork room were on the south side, on either side of the corridor. As I have also mentioned, the room where we had Physics was next to the hall, to the east. Next to the hall to the west was the art room. (I can’t remember who took us for Art.) There were also other rooms nearby which I don’t intend to describe just now. On the opposite side of the quadrangle, on the north side of the corridor, between the white-pillared entrances, were (going from west to east, if I remember correctly:) the Senior Mistress’s office, the staff room(s),[24] the School Secretary’s office, and the Headmaster’s study or office. On the south side of that corridor there were a number of classrooms, including (going from east to west) “Room 1” and “Room 2”.[25] (I remember these because we were permitted to go there at lunch-times in inclement weather. I started to stay for school dinners at Fleetwood Grammar School, and the canteen was on the main school site. There were two sittings for school dinners, and when one was not in the canteen eating one was normally expected to occupy oneself outside in the playground—unless, as I say, the weather was inclement.) So, Room 1 was at the north-east corner of the quadrangle. But the corridor extended beyond that, eastward, and similarly westward at its other end. On the eastward extension was the music room; it was on the same side of the corridor as the staff rooms, but separated from them by the two or three steps that led down to the entrance doorway. Answering to that room, on the extension at the other end, was the geography room. So I have accounted for the corridors north and south of the quadrangle. On its east side was the “boys’ corridor”, out of bounds to the girls because there was situated the boys’ cloak- and changing-room. On the west side of the quadrangle was the corresponding “girls’ corridor”. If a boy wanted to go from the art room to the geography room, he had to walk all the way round, passing the hall, turning left to go down the boys’ corridor, then turning left again and continuing past Rooms 1 and 2 to the end of that corridor.
[24] Staff room(s): I can’t remember whether there were separate women’s and men’s staff rooms, or whether there was just one.
[25] Room 1 and Room 2: The room numbers were later changed.
Music—Miss Hughes
 53. Although we didn’t see the inside of the geography room till the following school year, for our Geography lessons were at “Broadway”, we did have Music in the music room. The teacher, Miss Hughes, was a woman of about thirty,
[26] with dark, wavy hair, who spoke with a soft voice and lilting Welsh accent. She may also have had a slight lisp, for I remember that Steve O’Donnell, after the first lesson, kept saying, “/ˌmɪθˈjuːð/”— “/ˌmɪθˈjuːð/”. (It always seems to be Steve O’Donnell who comes into these sorts of memories.) Despite his saying it several times, some of those times at my request, I still couldn’t understand what he meant till he said it slowly: “/ˌmɪθ ˈhjuːð/.” I thought he was saying “my shoes”, with the “my” pronounced, as often in the north of England, as “//”: “/ˌmɪˈʃuːz/”.
[26] Miss Hughes was a woman of about thirty: She may have been less than thirty; cf. The Georgian, No.56, Spring Term 1960, page 5: ‘…Miss E. Hughes has come from Cardiff University to teach Music…’ If she had recently graduated she would probably have been in her twenties.
 54. We were taught some musical notation, for I remember that we had to write a line or two of melody for homework. I seem to remember from this time learning that the intervals in a major key scale are tone, tone, semitone, tone, tone, tone, semitone. But the acquisition of musical literacy started to get beyond me when we did keys, and key-signatures with so many sharps or so many flats. I don’t think Music was a subject we were examined in, so my lack of grasp of it didn’t matter.

 55. The only other memories I have are of learning songs.
 We learned two sung versions of the Lord’s Prayer. At Church Road County Primary School, the Lord’s Prayer was spoken; when at Fleetwood Grammar it was sung, I thought this was rather too “High Church” (or I would have done if “High Church” had been in my vocabulary at that time). The text of one of the versions of the Lord’s Prayer was the same as what I already knew, apart from its going straight to “Amen” from “But deliver us from evil”; and also that it had this line: “And let us not be led into /ˌtɛmp-ˈteɪ-ˌsɪ-ˌɒn/”—which I thought distinctly odd. But the tune was rather melancholic, in a minor key, which I found appealing.
 Twice a year we had the initial excitement of missing lessons and walking, class by class, out of the school gates, chattering excitedly, shepherded by the teachers to our destination. I say “initial excitement” because once that had worn off, I found these affairs almost intolerably boring. One of the events was “Speech Day”, held at the Marine Hall, and the other “Commemoration”, held at various churches—e.g. St. Peter’s, Fleetwood’s parish church. (Commemorating what, though, I don’t recall: presumably, the founding of the school.) I don’t think we were at St. Peter’s in the first year, however, when for our part in the Commemoration service Miss Hughes prepared us beforehand by getting us to learn Psalm 150, in the arrangement, I now know, of C.V. Stanford:
1 O praise God in his holiness:
praise him in the firmament of his power.

2 Praise him in his noble acts:
praise him according to his excellent greatness.

3 Praise him in the sound of the trumpet:
praise him upon the lute and harp.

4 Praise him in the cymbals and dances:
praise him upon the strings and pipe.

5 Praise him upon the well-tuned cymbals:
praise him upon the loud cymbals.

6 Let every thing that hath breath:
praise the Lord.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost:
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
I hadn’t the slightest idea of what “the firmament of his power” was, and I thought all the “ins” and “according tos” were very strange. (Actually, there is only one “according to”.) I also thought the tune was a bit repetitive, till it broke out in the surprising, soaring “prai–ai–ai–aise the Lor–ord.” And what were the last two lines supposed to mean?—especially “world without end”, when everybody knew that the world would one day end.
 Another song I remember learning was The Vagabond from (again, as I now know) Robert Louis Stevenson’s Songs of Travel, but not in the version of Vaughan Williams.

Other memories
 56. At Church Road County Primary School the boys had been divided into two teams, Red Team and Yellow Team, perhaps to create competition in the areas of learning achievement and sports. If that was the point of the teams, then I was an asset to my team in the former area but not in the latter. I forget which team I was in.
 At Fleetwood Grammar School, the same principle was applied, only there were not “teams” but “houses”, three of them: Bailey, Grange and Wyre. I was in Bailey House. From time to time “house meetings” were held: see Tuesday 8th February 1966: House meeting.

I was a pupil at Fleetwood Grammar School from 1973-1976. I am writing a post for my blog; may I borrow some of your photos?
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